Good morning, and welcome to the last day of a long and hopefully enjoyable holiday weekend. Fair warning - if you’re not in the mood for some volcanic Washington State Cougars Men’s Basketball takes, skip on down to the football section, because after what I just watched, some thoughts come to mind.
In case you weren’t tracking, the Cougs took the floor shortly after perennially-overrated choking dog Kyle Whittingham led his Utah Utes to another come-from-ahead loss in Seattle. After that concluded, WSU - presumably a school from a Power Five conference - faced six guys from the Cheney United Methodist Church League.
The virus-influenced situation around EWU would lead one to believe that WSU would make short work of the young men from Cheney’s rec courts. One would be wrong. EWU jumped out to a 16-3 lead as WSU bricked shot after shot from beyond the arc, and the Cougars managed to score a paltry eight points in the game’s first 11 minutes. The Cougs gradually clawed back to within two points, only to see the Eagles stretch the lead back to 10 late in the first half.
In a sequence that typified the first half perfectly, Isaac Bonton took an inbounds pass with 13+ seconds left and decided to stroll up the court as if he had all the time in the world, over-dribbling to his heart’s delight. By the time he got a play in motion it was too late, and WSU couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer, heading to the locker room facing a 39-33 deficit. Just a reminder that they had 13 SECONDS AND COULDN’T FIGURE OUT A WAY TO PUT UP A SHOT. Does this team even practice? TJ Bamba was a first half bright spot, sparking the Cougs with a three-pointer and grabbing four rebounds. Unfortunately, he also collected three fouls in fewer than eight minutes.
The second half gradually got better, as a Bonton basket tied the game at 44. After an EWU free throw, Myles Warren gave WSU its first lead over the rec league Johnny Try-hards with 13:53 to go. The good times would not last long, however, as WSU could only muster two of the game’s next 11 points and EWU took a 54-48 lead just over two minutes later. It was then that Noah Williams decided to put his stamp on the proceedings. Trailing 59-55, Williams drilled a three-pointer, stole the ball and hit another long distance jumper.
In a span of 22 seconds, WSU went from trailing by four to leading by two. They would not trail again, despite some incredibly shaky moments down the stretch, culminated by Bonton probably fouling Jacob Davison on a desperation heave at the buzzer. The play went uncalled, though, and WSU escaped with a win. Williams finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, keying WSU’s second half comeback. He also coerced Kim Aiken into committing an offensive foul with six seconds to go as WSU clung to a one-point lead. Efe Abogidi also showed some promise, going 4-5 from the floor and grabbing four rebounds in under 10 minutes of play. Of course, his playing time was truncated due to the fact that he fouled out.
I shudder to think how a game against a Big Sky team would have turned out for WSU had the opponent actually been able to field the team it has practiced with this fall. It sure would help if they could get consistent play at point guard, because it’s obvious that they really miss C.J. Elleby’s leadership. Unfortunately, Isaac Bonton does not appear up to the task. In two games against inferior competition, he has assisted on four baskets while committing nine turnovers. He also has to look north to see 25% made field goals. That lack of competence at point guard will lead to a decided regression in Kyle Smith’s second year, unless the young guys come of age more quickly than should be expected.
Oh well, 2-0 is still 2-0 I guess. The Cougs will open conference play on Wednesday, as they take on the Oregon State Beavers at 7 p.m.
Noah Williams leads Washington State past shorthanded Eastern Washington 71-68 | The Spokesman-Review
Six players saw the floor for EWU, which led for more than 33 minutes despite suiting up eight players.
On the Cougar football front, the team is coming off its second consecutive idle week, due to virus outbreak-induced roster depletion. Things appear to be trending in the right direction, though, as the Cougars were able to resume practice last Wednesday, and also weren’t subject to their annual Apple Cup tail-kicking.
So, what’s next? Theo Lawson tried to work through the scenarios, which range from WSU playing the USC Trojans as scheduled next week to not playing at all. A game in Los Angeles seems somewhat tenuous at this point, given the fact that LA has instituted tighter restrictions. Among those, as Lawson writes, is the following:
“Gatherings: All public and private gatherings with individuals not in your household are prohibited, except for faith-based services and protests, which are constitutionally protected rights.”
Seems to me the Pac-12 should cut a deal with the city’s largest cathedral, clear out all the pews and get after it. No? That’s not an option? Oh well.
Lawson also posits the interesting scenario that would see the game take place in the new Las Vegas stadium, which would be pretty cool, though not as cool as USC flying up to Pullman for a game. If I were a betting man, and I am, my guess is that USC won’t be able to play, and WSU will be left scrambling on late Wednesday or early Thursday to find another opponent, be it from the Pac-12 or the Mountain West.
The other team with the most virus issues has been the Arizona State Sun Devils, who haven’t played since their opening loss to USC. If they can’t go (I have no indication either way) that would free up the UCLA Bruins. Much like the Pac-12, the Mountain West has lost several games due to virus protocols, so it’s likely that at least one or two teams will be affected this week, and maybe they’ll be looking for a game. The Boise State Broncos, for example, have this current situation:
From Boise State: "With the exception of coaches accessing their offices and student-athletes utilizing the training room, Boise State has paused all football-related activities as a result of today’s game cancellation."— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) November 29, 2020
Boise is scheduled to face the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels next week. The only hope is that there’s a game of some sort on Friday or Saturday.
After consecutive cancellations, four potential scenarios for Washington State this week | The Spokesman-Review
In a normal year, Washington State's football team, having just finished the Apple Cup, waiting on the results of the Pac-12 Championship game and awaiting a bowl destination, would be in a holding pattern right now.
This Week in Parenting
The nine year-old, for all of his young life, has never been a fan of going to bed and staying in bed at the appointed time. He’s a lot better than in the past, but there are still flashes of the kid from 2014 who would be put in his bed at 8 p.m. and fall asleep roughly 2-3 hours and several scoldings/cajolings/episodes of outright begging later. This week was a beauty, as it was clear that he was fishing for a reason to get out of bed. Shortly after lights out, he emerged with the following question: “Are people solids, liquids or gasses?”
“What? Why are you asking this now?” was our response. “Well,” he said, “our bones are solid, but our pee is liquid and we toot out gas.” I had no coherent response.
Elsewhere, I always try to carve out 15 minutes or so to watch Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter before heading to work. Bad Beats is my favorite segment, and the boys love it also. They don’t really grasp the concept of point spreads and “bad beats” but they absolutely love the histrionics of SVP and cohort Stanford Steve. This week had them (and me) laughing hysterically. If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch (repeatedly) and enjoy.
“67! GET ON YOUR HORSE!” still practically has me in tears and I’ve seen it a dozen times.
I was watching SportsCenter again on Saturday when highlights of the Iowa basketball game came on. It wasn’t particularly notable, unless of course you’re a gambling degenerate like I am. The Hawkeyes were laying 28.5 in the waning seconds, and looked to be pulling into cover town in the waning seconds, until this happened:
I gasped, with equal parts terror and laughter. The nine year-old was watching with me, and he couldn’t figure out why I reacted like that, so I tried my level best to explain the concept of point spreads to the young lad. Seeing as how most adults - including those who somehow are the best at picking NFL games ATS - can’t figure point spreads out, I’m pretty sure my explanation didn’t sink in. From another room where he was hard at work building his ad-hoc Lego navy flotilla, the 12 year-old heard us talking and blurted out, “The lesson is to just not bet!” I was equal parts very proud of and profoundly disappointed by that statement.
Best beer I had this week: Thanks once again to the postal service, I consumed some more Omnipollo goodness this week, highlighted by Daidalos, a 12% stout with an incredible almond flavor. Man oh man was it good.
Beer and business: Small Brewery Sunday promotes local brewers' value
Like having beer near you? Consider supporting local beer makers on Small Brewery Sunday on Nov. 29. Many brewpubs and taprooms will have specials.
The Promise That Tested My Parents Until the End | GQ
Couples pledge many things to one another. When my father grew ill, one promise tested everything about my parents' long and happy life together, and forced my mother to wonder how she would keep her word—and also whether she should.